The Secretary-General is gravely concerned by the escalating fighting throughout Ukraine. Ukrainian cities are today under siege and facing repeated attacks.
Over one million Ukrainians have already crossed Ukraine’s borders and have been welcomed by their European neighbours. We applaud such solidarity and support. Everyone seeking refuge should be afforded protection without any form of discrimination.
Millions of Ukrainians who remain in the country are being subjected to heavy, often indiscriminate, bombardment and shelling. There are thousands of casualties and their number is growing.
The UN is significantly increasing its humanitarian assistance in Ukraine to respond to the escalating crisis.
The Secretary-General has followed with great alarm reports of heavy fighting around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine. We understand that the fire affected a training facility and not the cooling system or power center.
Military operations around nuclear sites and other critical civilian infrastructure are not only unacceptable but highly irresponsible.
Ukraine knows only too well the devastation of a major nuclear accident. The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 stands as a lasting example of why it is vital to ensure all nuclear power plants have the highest standards of safety and security.
Every effort should be taken to avoid a catastrophic nuclear incident.
The persistence and bravery of the Ukrainian personnel who continue to keep power plants safely operational during this crisis are to be applauded.
Attacks on nuclear power facilities are contrary to international humanitarian law. Specifically, Article 56 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Convention, states that: “Works or installations containing dangerous forces, namely dams, dykes and nuclear electrical generating stations, shall not be made the object of attack, even where these objects are military objectives, if such attack may cause the release of dangerous forces and consequent severe losses among the civilian population.”
The Secretary-General welcomes the statements and actions by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on this issue and is ready to assist however he can.
It is vital that all parties work with the IAEA to establish an appropriate framework that will ensure the safe, secure and reliable operation of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants.
Urgent and safe passage should be granted to IAEA personnel should they need to travel to Ukraine to work with regulators.
We welcome the reported agreement between the Ukrainian and Russian negotiators during their second round of talks in Belarus yesterday. We understand the discussion focused on the establishment of humanitarian corridors to allow safe passage for civilians and the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
We hope that this reported agreement is implemented without delay and that a full and unconditional ceasefire is quickly agreed and enacted.
We urge the sides to continue negotiations and to make urgent progress on security, humanitarian and other issues.
As the Secretary-General has emphatically stated, the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders, must be respected, in line with General Assembly resolutions.
What we are witnessing in Ukraine today is inconsistent with the principles of the UN Charter.
Only diplomacy and negotiations can achieve a truly lasting solution to the current conflict.
The fighting in Ukraine must stop. And it must stop now.
Thank you, Madam President.